Pierce Gets Third Glen Niebel Classic Victory

Story by Ken de la Bastide
Photo by David Sink

(April 15, 2013) -
Muncie’s Aaron Pierce recorded his third Glen Niebel Classic victory for non-winged sprint cars at Anderson Speedway on Sunday.

Pierce inherited the lead on lap 70 when leader Bobby East tangled with the slower car of Travis Welpott on the front street with the two cars coming to rest in turn one.

From there Pierce was able to pull away from the field over the final 30 laps.

There were 20 teams for the opening of the 2013 United States Speed Association’s Sprint Car Challenge powered by the United Auto Workers.

Pole sitter Joe Swanson took the early chased by JoJo Helberg, Pierce, East and Brian Gingras. Helberg went to the point on lap 17 when he slipped inside of Swanson coming off the fourth corner and East got inside of Pierce to claim the third spot.

Helberg’s run ended on lap 22 when he bounced off the lapped car of Kyle Feeney, coming to a stop against the turn four retaining wall. Helberg’s bad luck put East on the point chased by Pierce, Swanson, Gingras and Tony Hunt.

For the next 47 laps East was able to hold off a determined Pierce, who looked high and low for a way to the front. On lap 69 with East and Pierce running amongst slower traffic, the race deciding incident took place.

Pierce went on to win by three-seconds over Swanson with Hunt getting inside of Gingras on the final lap to finish third.

Chris Neunschwander appeared on his way to a top five finish when he pulled into the infield with just two laps remaining.

“The car was great,” Pierce said following his third Niebel victory. He’s the first driver to win back-to-back races to go along with a win in 2003.

“I saw it coming,” he said of the contact that took East out of the race.

Swanson said his car lost its brakes for the second half of the race, but the car was good until then.

“It was tight racing,” he said of the USSA sanctioned race.

Hunt said his car wasn’t as good for the feature as it had been for qualifying and the heat race.

“It might have been something with the tires,” he said. “I didn’t want to wreck. We wanted to get a solid finish, which we did.”

Florida driver Brian Gingras led the entire distance to win the first heat race holding off East for all ten laps with Pierce moving outside of Neunschwander on lap five on the front straight to claim third.

Gingras won by less than two-tenths of a second over East with Pierce and Neunschwander finishing less than a half-second from the point.

The top four drivers all ran nose to tail over the final half of the race waiting for someone to slip.

The second heat win went to Pendleton resident Todd Welpott, who first turned back a challenge from Swanson and then Hunt.

Hunt was fourth after the first lap but passed Helberg with an outside move entering turn three on lap four. Four laps later Hunt and Helberg were able to slip underneath Swanson to claim the final two podium spots.

East set the quick time during qualifications with a lap of 11.449-seconds followed by Hunt who clocked a lap at 11.519-second and Pierce with a time of 11.572-seconds.

The top nine qualifiers were all within a half-second of each other.

Tom Bliss made contact with the turn two wall during practice and was unable to compete.

For additional information on Anderson Speedway contact Anderson Speedway at (765) 642-0206.